Generic drugs for cancer treatment are essential because there are only a handful of cancer drugs available as generics.

More often than not, in daily practice, people with leukemia or early-stage breast cancer have been treated with generic cancer drugs. Apart from chemotherapy, generic drugs for cancer treatment have also been used in supportive care.

The generic drug market is gearing up as the patents on some branded cancer drugs are about to expire. It is good news for people who cannot afford expensive brand-name cancer drugs. But at the same time, patients want reassurance that switching to generics is safe.

Recent figures show that a total global oncology drugs market is approaching $100 billion, with revenues from generics are growing at twice the rate of the market as a whole, and will reach more than $20 billion by 2018, according to Cancer World Magazine.

In the United States, more than 80% of all drug prescriptions are already available as generics.

There have been concerns about the quality of generic drugs for cancer treatment. Most of the small-molecule cancer drugs are straightforward to produce, but people are concerned that they might be produced in poor or sub-standard facilities.

Drug regulatory bodies, such as the FDA and EMA, always look for data on the developmental process and stability of generic drugs to ensure compliance with the general regulations concerning good manufacturing practice (GMP).

Prof. Atholl Johnston of the University of London says, “Doctors and patients can be confident that most generic drugs dispense in Western nations are of high quality, but there have been problems with both branded and generic drugs.”

Access to generic cancer drugs is still one of the major challenges today.

In a paper published in the Annals of Oncology, authors have provided a comparison between the most frequently used generic cancer drugs and their branded counterparts, according to Science Direct.

Some of the most common generic drugs for cancer treatment include paclitaxel (Taxol), gemcitabine (Gemita), docetaxel (Taxotere), oxaliplatin (Oxitan), and irinotecan (Camptosar).

Generic drugs, especially those used in cancer treatments, have a narrow therapeutic window. Plus, there are fewer studies on variation in more than a few generic cancer drugs.

However, Prof. Johnston pointed out one study that French researchers conducted to compare the quality of generic docetaxel, a cytotoxic agent or chemotherapy drug that is widely used for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

The French study found 23 generic versions of docetaxel with impurities levels of more than 3%. For more information on the safety and efficacy of generic drugs for cancer treatment, visit Cancer World, a magazine that explores cancer care from all viewpoints by publishing online articles and news.